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Thread: What do You Look For in Vintage Machines?

  1. #1
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    What do You Look For in Vintage Machines?

    I am an avid thrift store person, and see alot of machines waiting to be rescued. Just was wondering, what exactly to you look for when inspecting vintage machines for possible rescue? Especially the old old machines. Thanks in advance for your input.

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    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    cleanliness, (was it well maintained?)
    function, does everything work- wheel turn, needle go up & down, electical components in good condition, belt without cracks?
    decals in place
    price.
    i love the old machines but am not interested in having to spend a bunch of extra money to restore them- if i'm going to buy one i want it usable- and (hazard free) i don't want a fire hazard- dangerous piece of equipment- so the cords must be in good shape- having some attachments, assessories is nice too-
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

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    Functional parts intact
    Decals are in excellent condition
    Little to no rust
    Bobbin case present

  4. #4
    Super Member nanna-up-north's Avatar
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    I look for condition, bobbin case being there, and price. I'm just learning about fixing them up and don't want to spend an arm and a leg doing it. I want there to be some value in what I get..... so I feel like I still have a bargain. But, if I were to find an unusual, beautiful machine, I'd be tempted.

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    Senior Member Mom3's Avatar
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    All of the above.

    Plus, I 'try' to make sure needles and bobbins are still available for the model(s) I'm looking at because I don't just look at my machines, I use them.

    Shari

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    Sorry but I look for pristine condition; working and CHEAP! I have yet to pay over $50 for an antique machine. Have been VERY fortunate. But IMO, there are too many machines out there in pristine condition to pay for something in less than that. Be that is it may, I did (last year) pay $50 for an electrified redeye in less than pristine condition. But it suited some other needs for me.

  7. #7
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Plastic geared machines are persona non grata in this house. I don't even consider them.

    Otherwise if the machine looks at me with big sad eyes and whimpers ..... "please save me" . It goes home with me.

    Here's something for you neat freaks to think about. If a machine is sanitary clean, it usually means they were not used much. When I see a machine like that the first thing that I ask is: "What's wrong with this machine, that nobody used it?"

    On the other hand when I find a machine that has yellowed underneath from much oiling and has lint and fuzz everywhere I know that machine has been used ... a lot. And the odds are it is a good machine.

    An example is the Commodore I got yesterday. It's a very good machine, all it needs is cleaning and oiling and it's good to go.
    On the other hand the Edison I got earlier this year was clean, but completely unusable.

    This hasn't been 100% true, but I'm thinking about 90% so I'm sticking to my methods.

    Plus I like to fix 'em.

    Joe

  8. #8
    Senior Member MrsBoats's Avatar
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    Depends on how handy you are, and what you're going to do with it. Are you adding to your own collection, or do you just like to tinker and learn? The requirements for either are different.

    If I'm adding to my collection, I look for unusual-something I don't have one of. I seem to have a kink for friction drives, and now have half a dozen or so of them. Is it in good condition? If it's not, can you fix it, or are you willing to pay someone else too? Do you have a budget?

    If I'm looking to tinker and learn, I care far less about looks-I've bought some real dogs on the theory that they're already beat, so nothing I can do to them is going to make them worse. Ugly ones are usually cheaper, too.

    If you're not keeping it, what will you do with it? If you catch and release, do you have a steady supply of people to release to? Most of them are likely to want a basic zigzag and a 'real' bobbin, not a vibrating shuttle machine, which influences what you want to buy. It's an expensive hobby to buy, fix and give away, but I know someone who regularly sends machines to either Afghanistan or Africa.
    -Karen
    There's no such thing as too many sewing machines!

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    Senior Member pinkCastleDH's Avatar
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    Do I like the looks - condition, decals, style of machine, etc.... If I do the next question is whether I can think of someplace that I can put it, either for use or display, once it's cleaned up? If I can, can I afford it?

  10. #10
    Super Member jlhmnj's Avatar
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    I'd look at how the machine was going to be used----resale or actual use. Only certain machines I'd advise for resale and only certain machines might be good for a particular use. Personally, I'd buy a Davis

    Jon

  11. #11
    Super Member thepolyparrot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Miller View Post
    Otherwise if the machine looks at me with big sad eyes and whimpers ..... "please save me" . It goes home with me.
    That's my problem, too, Joe. I like to fix them as much as I like to sew.

    I have very few machines left on my wish list now, though. I'd like a back-clamping red eye 66 in perfect condition and a fancy parlor cabinet. I'd like a vertical feed machine for which a good range of needle sizes are easily available. I'd like a 15-125 with Gingerbread decals. Those are about it for me. I really need to thin the herd as it is - they've sort of stacked up, here.

  12. #12
    Super Member nygal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkCastleDH View Post
    Do I like the looks - condition, decals, style of machine, etc.... If I do the next question is whether I can think of someplace that I can put it, either for use or display, once it's cleaned up? If I can, can I afford it?
    I am new to collecting vintage machines but I think the same way you do!!
    When it seems like the world is falling to pieces remember that the pieces are falling into place. We are nearing closer to the End Times.

  13. #13
    Senior Member pinkCastleDH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nygal View Post
    I am new to collecting vintage machines but I think the same way you do!!
    I'm new to it too! We only started this crazy hobby a little over two months ago with Herself's acquisition of a 99 - hmmm does that sound familiar

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    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thepolyparrot View Post
    That's my problem, too, Joe. I like to fix them as much as I like to sew.

    I have very few machines left on my wish list now, though. I'd like a back-clamping red eye 66 in perfect condition and a fancy parlor cabinet. I'd like a vertical feed machine for which a good range of needle sizes are easily available. I'd like a 15-125 with Gingerbread decals. Those are about it for me. I really need to thin the herd as it is - they've sort of stacked up, here.
    Several weeks ago I picked up two machines that were on my wish list. A 66-1 in decent condition cosmetically but great mechanically, and a 15-91 in about the same shape. The 15-91 was bought specifically for my education in rewiring the potted motor.
    The 66-1 cos I had an almost complete set of feet for it and I wanted a machine to match. Now I need a treadle base for it.

    My wife and I are in the process of test running each machine to see if we want to keep it or sell it. The two 413s are going to be the first on the block, then perhaps the 3810. After that, we'll go through each one and see how we feel about it. We do have a number of machines that will stay here but other that can go.

    Joe

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    Senior Member pinkCastleDH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thepolyparrot View Post
    I have very few machines left on my wish list now, though. I'd like a back-clamping red eye 66 in perfect condition and a fancy parlor cabinet. I'd like a vertical feed machine for which a good range of needle sizes are easily available.
    I'd like the parlor cabinet without the machine. If it has the machine then one with immaculate Lotus decals would be nice, though so would another 115, this time with the Owl decals.

    An NVF in really nice shape would be good, too - though I think I need to clear some treadle cabinets out of here before I can fit one of those nice Davis cabinets in.

    We have a Willcox & Gibbs coming, but without a base so it won't be immediately useable. I love the iron work on the W&G bases. If I ever get a chance to build a universal treadle top out of something other than one of the Singer bases I'd like to find a set of W&G irons for it.

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    Super Member pumpkinpatchquilter's Avatar
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    I don't know if I even truly consider myself a "collector", but I greatly admire those who do! I seem to grow fondness for machines that I have seen and incidently gained knowledge about. Often times from posts on forums like this one! Someone will share their really cool machine...and then all of a sudden I see one at a sale...and because I know just the slightest thing about it, it must come home. I try to avoid at this point anything too big unless I LOVE IT because my home is small. I avoid anything I have more than two of...although I'm thinking of getting a thired 15-90 so that all three of my kids will have one. I gravitate towards people powered machines versus electric because...well...electric can be a pain in the you know what.
    Valerie Smith - pumpkinpatchquilter
    Obsessed Quilter and APQS Long Arm Machine Quilter
    www.pumpkinpatchquilter.com

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    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    LOL All of the above - I do have a really ugly pitted pock marked Japanese Clone I just love. It was frozen up not moving when I picked it up - it now moves better than anything else in pristine condition. Who cares what it looks like as long as it does the job. Maybe someday I will fix the finish on it but until then - it works. For Christmas last year my sister and I fixed up mom's little beat up FW. It sews like a champ - ugly but who cares. http://www.quiltingboard.com/vintage...t-t174236.html

    I figure when I buy a junk machine it will either work or it will help another machine to work some day. I usually like to see all the parts on the machine or a really cheap price.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.

  18. #18
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    I agree with Miriam on the "really cheap price" part.

    Joe

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    Senior Member pinkCastleDH's Avatar
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    I'd like to add hand crank versions of the 66, 99, 201 and 221 (probably aftermarket for the featherweight). No wiring to worry about, fully self-contained, treadleable if the base is available. Yeah!

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    Super Member k9dancer's Avatar
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    Piece of advice: don't take someone's word that the machine works.
    I once came across a machine covered in dirt, missing its bobbin case, and all the wiring had been chewed by varmints, and the seller tried to force the wheel to move and tell me it worked! It hadn't worked in years, and I took it home for about five bucks, in the cabinet. The right price for a project.
    Stephanie in Mena

  21. #21
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by k9dancer View Post
    Piece of advice: don't take someone's word that the machine works.
    I once came across a machine covered in dirt, missing its bobbin case, and all the wiring had been chewed by varmints, and the seller tried to force the wheel to move and tell me it worked! It hadn't worked in years, and I took it home for about five bucks, in the cabinet. The right price for a project.
    Yeah - I would agree with that one. Sit yourself down and take some time to decide if it is a good one or not. I love it when someone does that. Then I know they are going to be happy. What scares me is people who come, hand me the money and leave. Yikes what are they doing?
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.

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    I make sure that all moving parts work. Make sure the handwheel will turn and the needle goes up and down. I actually prefer the treadles if the cabinet is in decent shape. I think about whether I have that model and what is it that makes it unique. Sometimes I just see one that screams at me and off we go--home! I just think I know when I see one if I love it and it wants to come home with me.

  23. #23
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MimiBug123 View Post
    I make sure that all moving parts work. Make sure the handwheel will turn and the needle goes up and down. I actually prefer the treadles if the cabinet is in decent shape. I think about whether I have that model and what is it that makes it unique. Sometimes I just see one that screams at me and off we go--home! I just think I know when I see one if I love it and it wants to come home with me.
    I can have two identical machines side by side and one I like and one I don't - go figure.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.

  24. #24
    Super Member purplefiend's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkCastleDH View Post
    I'd like to add hand crank versions of the 66, 99, 201 and 221 (probably aftermarket for the featherweight). No wiring to worry about, fully self-contained, treadleable if the base is available. Yeah!
    The 221 isn't a good candidate to be hand cranked. The others are great as they can be fitted with a hand crank and a spoked handwheel. I have the 201k and 99k-13 hand cranks and they are lovely for that. I have taught kids to sew with them.

  25. #25
    Senior Member pinkCastleDH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by purplefiend View Post
    The 221 isn't a good candidate to be hand cranked. The others are great as they can be fitted with a hand crank and a spoked handwheel. I have the 201k and 99k-13 hand cranks and they are lovely for that. I have taught kids to sew with them.
    I've seen hand crank kits for the 221 on eBay a couple of times. Apparently some guy with a sewing machine repair shop makes them from scratch. Just took a look and he has one up now:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/FEATHERWEIGH...item2574d9564e

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